10. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Can you make a bio-pic about a rap group interesting? Very simple make it about probably one of if not the most influential group in the history of hip-hop that is Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Dj Yella, and M.C. Ren a.k.a. N.W.A.. A group that shocked the upper class along with the middle class who would have probably have never heard of or listened to hip-hop before them. The film is as incendiary as anything that could come from Tarantino or Spike Lee but it’s meant to be, to remind those of us who are too young to remember what it was like when it was new. And it’s all captured in vivid color, from the late night debauchery, the fights, the disputes, the beatings, everything, it’s all captured. But it goes to an extra length to make sure we care about this group of people that while they are misfits who came from the wrong side of the track it’s more than anything about family. A dysfunctional family but a family none the less. A family that changed the course of music and pop culture forever.
9. STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 – THE FORCE AWAKENS
After being left to wrestle with the question if the prior trilogy, “The Prequel Trilogy,” brought down the polish of the great space opera for almost a decade or if it was even worthy of being included. And then the news came; George Lucas sold his company, and “Star Wars,” to of all the places, Disney. Then would we, or could we get a worthy prequel or sequel to the series that launched more than a thousand dreams into a galaxy far, far away. Well say no more J.J. Abrams to the rescue! The man who rescued and resurrected another “Star” saga, “Star Trek,” from the staleness and blandness that had suffocated it for almost a decade as well. Here we are returned back to when everything was, or looked, real. No cold overdone digital everything that we had gotten, he returns the saga to what made the original trilogy so successful, it’s about good vs. evil, that’s it. The story is simple it’s a hero’s journey, a valentine, a love letter, a return to what made it just so much fun to sit in a crowded movie theater with the lights out and smile with pure, almost childlike joy. And we get an obvious career/star making performances from Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, just as the trilogy made unknowns such as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill almost 40 years ago, this will do that for them as well.
8. THE MINIONS
You could criticize that there really isn’t any humanity or the depth that the other computer/digital animation rivals Pixar put into there creations but the masters of this world doesn’t try to compete with them, they just know what they do and do what they do. They make things that are loveable and likeable and come one, how many of us love those lovable “Minions,” huh? I thought so. It a great big, goofy, unstoppably loveable, sloppy St. Bernard of a film that manages to create more laughs in a frame than many comedies have even tried to do this year, or almost any, for that matter. It’s more Marx Brothers or Three Stooges than anything it harkens back to the day when sight comedy had to truly be watched and followed and set up, and it’s a welcome return and valentine to the old school days of comedy. The kind of comedies that nobody even attempts to create or re-create for that matter. It just wants us to have fun, doesn’t try to change the world and it doesn’t even attempt to, it knows it’s place and it’s a welcome treat.
7. THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Joss Whedon continues with his ride and trials into the Marvel Universe in his latest and sadly, possibly last outing here. Unlike so many super heroes where we just have to like everyone and everyone has to get along and everyone has to unite, because they just have to, right? Well, not so fast, Whedon’s a popcorn movie’s best friend making sure that he takes his time in development before just handing it to his audience. We must know who each person is, their motives, their back story, enjoy the characters, understand who they are and engross in the story, and believe me we can’t thank you enough. Too long, to get to the action you say, HOG WASH!!! Whedon doesn’t just give us action, he gives us a story he wants us to know this group of people are more than anything than superheroes they’re family. Granted he does leave the ending a bit up in the air, but then again what superhero film is close ended I ask? Exactly. He makes sure nothing is done with shallow resolve everything happens for a reason, it may take time to get there, but in a where were nobody has anytime for anything there is Whedon who makes sure that we take our time that our story is developed. While sadly this is Whedon’s last outing but thankfully it’s a welcome farewell.
6. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
After spending a few years in the world of kids movies like “Happy Feet,” hey it won him an Oscar, Aussie filmmaker George Miller returns to action. But wait, it’s been almost 30 years since the last chapter and, oh no, “Max” himself, Mel Gibson, is nowhere to be found. Oh no only disaster can come from this right? Wrong, very wrong. Miller returns to action and it’s a welcome return at that. First of all, Tom Hardy, does a more than fine job of filling in for Mr. Gibson, he’s a loner in a lone land void of high tech slickness and cgi silliness. It’s all here, all in front of the camera, real world stunt men, real world toughness, and believe me it’s a welcome departure from all of the crap that so many action directors have tried to shove down our throats. It’s gritty, it’s cool and it’s the kind of action escapism that’s so rarely done that we never see it anymore. And in case you’re wondering did you have to see the others? No, Miller makes sure to honor the old guard that saw the originals and rebuild and continue with a new chapter for young fans. Thank you for it too.
5. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
This year we got a lot of spy movies, some great, some ok, some you could do without but with everyone trying to imitate Bond here’s one that was more Bond than, well, Bond has been. A spy thriller that went back to the days when Bond was more about fun and cool. Yea, it was over-the-top but for those of us who remember the old spy films so were they. And thanks to this little gem of a thriller, which is, not only cool, but also it’s action-packed, funny and surprisingly sexy. Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson and a group of terrific newcomers all combine to show us how spy films/spy thrillers were supposed to be, just fun. And it does that in spades, when you’re not cheering, you’re smiling and when you’re not smiling you’re laughing, it’s golden popcorn all the way. Thank you to all of you for it so those just looking for something to entertain and nothing more this was, excuse me, this IS the treat we’ve been wanting for quite sometime.
Crime thrillers, gotten boring well at least we still have good old Michael Mann. The man behind the quintessential 80’s TV series “Miami Vice,” the top-notch action thriller/modern day western “Heat,” and the uber stylized dark thrill ride “Collateral” and he brings all his mojo to the world of computer hacking here. Just two people arguing over instant messaging right? Wrong. It’s a top notch cat and mouse chase from one side of the globe to the other and if you loose interest or wonder if you’ll keep it, well thanks again to Mann a film maker/writer who doesn’t just research his scripts he goes into exhaustive detail but doesn’t do it to boredom either. When it’s time to deliver the action, he delivers, he gets more tension and action out of a phone call or a aerial shot than film makers half his age could dream of. And in a world where every young filmmaker just tries to make action films MTV style music videos Mann knows that adding style doesn’t mean flash. It means making sure your script and environment is engrossing and that everyone is riveted by what you see. Thank you for it Mr. Mann.
3. INSIDE OUT
For anyone who thinks Disney’s best years are behind them, OH…so wrong! Thank you Pixar! With digital taking over everything in the world of animation there seems to be one, ONLY ONE who knows to not leave it at visual spectacle….STORY COMES FIRST! Yes, I won’t lie visually it was impressive, as anything that could be from Pixar but the true star is the characters. You look inside of them, in their head and in their soul. You laugh when they laugh and even, I kid you not, cry when they cry. It moves you like nothing you’ve seen this year. Who could possibly think that a cartoon, yes a cartoon could do this. Look no further than here, thank you Pixar for reminding us all of the importance of story and character. Make this film, in fact make all of Pixar’s films mandatory for all who have even attempted or dreamed to make a film or write a script.
2. The Hateful Eight
Leave it to Tarantino to return to the western of old-times, the days of Howard Hawks and Sam Peckinpah. Granted neither of them probably could have dreamed of or thought of getting away with the amount of brutal over-the-top bloody violence QT is able to get away with, but who cares. When it comes to knowing how to entertain few have managed to combine top caliber entertainment with such gleeful energy as him. An ensemble ride that’s not just well acted but it’s damn funny! Bringing back regulars Tim Roth, Michael Madson and Samuel L. Jackson along some newbie’s Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern and a wonderful comeback performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh it moves at a better pace than any action film that’s been on screen this year. Some complaints have been made about the length and characters but well, duh, it’s called “THE HATEFUL EIGHT” not the likable eight and it’s length, oh just see it. Like I said it moves fast, so fast you want more when it’s over.
1. BLACK MASS
It’s so rare that we get treated to a knockout of a film, especially a gangster film, I think the last to come to mind was “The Departed” or “Goodfellas,” but now we can add just a sledgehammer of a film in the form of “Black Mass.” It’s as entertaining as it is brutal, as exciting as it is a spectacle, and as well acted as anything that we’ve been treated to in a while. Thank you for that Mr. Depp! With the most spot on, straight ahead, unforgiving complex performance as James “Whitey” Bulger the gangland leader who ruled and terrorized South Boston with an iron fist for years. A film so lush in energy and talent that in a world where everything and everyone is reduced to just imitating everything done by Tarantino and Scorsese that we could have yawned all the way home, not here! No style, no color, nothing pretty we see into their world, their world of bleakness, brutality and even occasionally sadness (witness Deep and a wonderful cameo from Dakota Johnson, scene of the year). Nothing is over the top, here everyone brings their A-game to the table, from Depp dealing with a “rat” to his stare down with someone over something as innocent as a steak, it’s done with terrifying menace and relentless energy. Special extra thanks have to go to director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart,” “Out of the Furnace”) he get performances like few have seen out of not only Depp but his cracker jack supporting cast, Kevin Bacon, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Scott, and Dakota Johnson (I bring her up again because I was wrong, after seeing this apparently SHE CAN ACT), and also removing all bits of anything that could compare it with anything else. When something violent happens it’s not with a burst of laughter and cool it’s done with coldness. It’s not just a film it’s a roller coaster of power, a film lovers delight, the kind of film that most Hollywood movies wouldn’t have the guts to make. It’s truly worthy of every bit of credit.
Written by Jason Greathouse
In what seemed like a sure thing has quickly turned into a resounding no from the writer and director and broken the hearts of many of us who were looking forward to a director’s cut of Marvel’s second outing with it’s super hero team. It was pretty much confirmed by anyone who watched the movie, at least those who pay attention to things like this, that the movie was unbalanced. While I really enjoyed the film it was very clear that Marvel, once again, had pulled an Iron Man 2, and crammed too much “look what’s coming moments” instead of focusing more on the story at hand and the film suffered because of it. Fans began supporting the idea of a directors cut so they could see the movie as originally attended before it was chopped away in the editing room, but nerd God Joss Whedon has killed all hope.
“It has always been my ambition never to do a director’s cut of anything, and always to make the movie with the studio that we both want to make. Ultron was very complex. There was a lot of back-and-forth. My instinct is no.
I don’t think there’s interest in it, right now. You’ll see a bunch of stuff on the DVD in extras that were meant to be there. But the narrative came together very close to the way that I hoped it would, and I don’t think it needs me to constantly tweak it. I feel you put something out, and there it is.
If I tell a story, I want that to be the story I told. Ultron may have some transitions that I’m not 100% on board with. It’s also one of the most ridiculously personal things I’ve ever put on screen. The fact that Marvel gave me that opportunity and supported it, I’m very happy and very proud of everybody that worked on it. I don’t feel the need to go in and fix.”
While I understand his stance, I also feel he’s wrong, because this was not your usual Joss, he doesn’t leave so many plot threads hanging in his other work, and the film itself moved a bit too fast when it first started, then you have the entire scene with Thor in the cave that just came out of nowhere and disappeared just as fast really lent nothing to the main story. Like I said, I really enjoyed the film but I can put that aside and realize that the film definitely had some problems, maybe those deleted scenes will add more of what we needed and fill that void of the director’s cut.
It’s really hard to believe that about eight years ago we were sitting on the outside of what Marvel was building and thinking to ourselves, ‘this will never work’. I remembered hearing that Marvel has taken out a very large loan to start up their own studio to make their own movies. I never believed it was possible to have the cinematic universe fruitful and growing right before my eyes and yet here we are, on the ending of their second phase. Each of the characters who has had their own movies brought us through their stories until they collided into Joss Whedon’s second film in The Avengers films.
Now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen (at least in the movie world) it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to take on the arms dealers, mad scientist, and anyone else who would carry the torch of violence and destruction and look to enslave humanity. During a raid of a Hydra facility looking for Loki’s scepter from the first film. Tony takes the scepter and with the help of Bruce Banner begin to create an artificial intelligence that takes the form of Ultron, a program designed to be a “suit of armor around the world” that Tony feels is the first and last line of defense against another alien attack. Ultron very quickly realizes that the extinction of the human race is the best way to save the planet and begins to put his plan into effect. Ultron recruits the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen who gained their powers of super speed and “being wierd” by being experimented on by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) who aid Ultron systematically pick apart The Avengers.
There is so much in this movie, it’s packed with new characters, amazing actions scenes, and huge set up for the upcoming sequels and the massive two part The Avengers: Infinity War. Everything about this movie is bigger, as you’d expect from a sequel of the magnitude, but Whedon did stayed true with his promise to make the sequel painful and more personal. He doesn’t waste any time showing you how the they all operate as a team and why they are so feared by anyone who stands in their way, something that is excellent set-up for the Civil War plot line that will be unwinding in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
One of my favorite moments wasn’t just the Hulk vs Hulkbuster, which was pretty amazing and allowed me to share a tender moment with my step-son as he turned to me with the biggest smile as the two began to square off. It also wasn’t Captain America taking on Ultron by himself, which was pretty amazing, or how Whedon showed the team working together as a tight unit in several actions scenes that I can’t wait to watch over and over again when it comes out on Blu-ray. No, my favorite bit out of the entire film is was Hawkeye’s back story, (which I won’t spoil) which comes out of nowhere but doesn’t feel forced or out of place. In fact out of everything in the film, this is the bit that fits perfectly. It’s beautiful and completely unexpected but provides a nice insight to some of the other characters who are internally battling where they fit in the normal world.
Despite all my praise, I do have some issues and this movie is far from perfect. While I did enjoy the action and loved how they managed to step everything up but make it fun, you can tell the movie was shredded all to hell in the editing room, which had me worried when Joss’s original cut came in around 3 1/2 hours and he bragged about how one of his main goals was to make Avengers 2 shorter then the first one. There are scenes and lines that have been cut from the trailer (which is something I hate) and the movie has to move extremely fast to hit it’s plot points so everything feels a bit forced as far as the plot in concerned.
There was also a lot of setup for other characters in other films coming out and there were moments where it felt that scenes were missing that lead up to where the heroes and villains colliding. There is a few scenes where Thor has a vision and decides to look into what he had seen in Asgard, which if anyone remembers Thor: The Dark World (SPOILERS) Loki has taken over as King of Asgard, under the guise of Odin. It’s not fully explained how Thor is able revisit his dream, he just tells us he has to jump into some pool of water in a cave, he jumps in, and suddenly see’s what we’ve all known is that someone *cough Thanos cough* is after the Infinity Stones.
I’ve heard many complain on how quickly Ultron actually became Ultron and why I don’t have a problem with this considering he’s a program that doesn’t have to eat or sleep, I do feel that there were a few scenes missing to really flesh him out as well, but James Spader kills it as the murderous android and has managed to put himself up there with Loki and Wilson Fisk, as one of the great villains, something Marvel severely lacks in otherwise.
I really, really enjoyed the film and I highly recommend going to see it but I am warning you, if you are new to this series, this isn’t the movie to start, much like WB did with the later Harry Potter films, if you haven’t been on board since the beginning, don’t look for the movie to take the time to catch you up and while this doesn’t have the awe the first film had of the team getting together nor the emotional punch many were expecting, it is outstanding achievement in the blockbuster scene and fun film.
The interview started out pleasently enough as Downey talked about The Avengers: Age of Ultron when the interviewer suddenly wanted to divulge into Downey’s past with drugs and alcohol, something he has far distanced himself from. I don’t blame RDJ one bit, you can clearly see he’s starting to get really pissed, and this interviewer was being a twat by bringing up something Downey has talked about before in the past and has worked very hard to completely pull away from that bad boy persona he used to carry.
Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers go head-to-head with Ultron in a new clip from Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” hitting theaters May 1! Watch if you dare!
This is a pretty amazing clip but Ultron’s voice is really throwing me off, it’s not the cool calculating voice from James Spader that we’re used to, he sounds more like Tony Stark and this really sparked my curiosity to find out why.
This is pretty funny and pretty accurate, check it out.